Top stallion Dynasty already has his name engraved on the Vodacom Durban July trophy courtesy of his brilliant victory in 2003. His representation this year by virtue of ante-post favourite Jackson looks to be complemented by another smart three year old in Taipan, who could book his place for 7 July with a smooth win in Sunday’s Gr2 Betting World Derby.
The taipans are a genus of large, fast, highly venomous Australasian snakes and Dean Kannemeyer’s appropriately baptised colt caught the public imagination some eight months ago when street corner whispers spoke of him as a potential Cape Derby winner.
A dose of slow poison later and the fairytale hasn’t quite progressed at the rate that his connections would have hoped, with him only having his third outing of this year on Sunday. But we all know the cautionary of the snake in the grass, and he could set the record straight here.
Owner Marsh Shirtliff is a Mike Bass man, but his white, pink and blue silks are carried by Taipan in this rare association with a yard that has produced more Classic winners than any other based in the Western Cape. The Hamiltons RFC supporter went to R350 000 with partners Bryn Ressel and Warren Laird to acquire the handsome colt, who gets his chance on Sunday to show us how good he really is.
Taipan had won three on the trot when he was well beaten by the year older Polar Bound in an MR 95 Handicap over 1600m at Greyville recently. He then came out and ran a cracker for a three year old when finishing 2,65 lengths fourth behind English Garden, when giving away a half- kilo. The former SA Classic winner confirmed the form when he came out and ran a top third behind Gold Onyx in the Gr3 Cup Trial a fortnight ago.
The wily Karl Neisius gets aboard Taipan and will give him every tactical advantage from the saddle.
Jockey MJ Byleveld, who was probably only born a decade after Neisius rode his first winner way back in 1973, rides the obvious favourite and top-rated horse in this race in Vaughan Marshall’s Tribal Dance, who won the East Cape Derby in scintillating style in mid-May.
Why Worry, who finished 3,50 lengths behind in fourth , came out and franked the form with a good win in the Gr3 Winter Classic over another Marshall horse in Hill Fifty Four at Kenilworth two weeks later.
Tribal Dance has done little wrong and has the collateral earlier form to both Jackson and Variety Club that show him to be far better than just a two-time winner from eight starts. This field is of some better quality than that which he toyed with down in the Eastern Cape and this is to be regarded as the first serious test for him.
The Marshall yard has gone a bit quiet after a purple patch a month ago, but they will be expecting a big showing from the son of Tiger Dance.
Shogunnar confirmed his trainer’s esteemed rating of his ability, when he charged through late to run a 4,25 length third to Jackson in the Daily News 2000. That was just his fourth start and a commendable effort indeed. He appears to stay this far based on his running on fourth behind Vettel in the 2500m Highland Night Cup.
This son of Solskjaer is lightly raced and has done little wrong in his four career starts. It would be no surprise to see him running on late for the major money.
Greg Ennion’s Master Plan finished 2,75 lengths behind Shogunnar in the Daily News after running quite handy, and the Van Zyl gelding has him tied up on that run. That said, Master Plan did run a cracker when finishing a close up second behind Beach Beauty in the Greyville 1900 . We have the feeling though that he may be at his best up to 2000m, and the extra 400m here will have him coming up for air late in the race.
Two runners who went head to head at their last outing meet again here. Yogas Govender’s Premium Wood gave De Kock’s Canterbury Tale two kgs and a 1,25 length beating in an MR 86 Handicap run over 1800m at Clairwood last week. The 600m extra could be a levelling factor, but it is difficult to see Canterbury Tale reversing things. Unless of course Anton Marcus rides him with more restraint, and he stays better than the Plattner horse.But Premium Wood is by Fort Wood out of a Badger Land mare, so there is no reason why he should not see the 2400mout.
The grey Alyson Wright-trained Penhaligon is one fellow who has no problems with the 2400m and he looks to be improving steadily having won his last two starts. He had the benefit of the full-value 4kg claim of apprentice Bryan Claassen when winning going away at Greyville over 2000m and disposing of some older average handicappers. As the most experienced horse in the race, he may be tough enough to earn some minor place income.
Geoff Woodruff’s Red Fort was an impressive 14,25 length maiden winner, but came to the track in the wrong frame of mind and was scratched due to intractability at the start of the Derby Trial on 7 April. His fitness must be in question, but any horse who wins his maiden by half the racecourse is worth consideration.
Idaara improved dramatically when trying ground to win his maiden over 2500m and then stayed on to run a fair second to Look After Me over 2400m at Scottsville last time. This will be much tougher than what he faced there, but he stays well, and that brings him into the picture for a place cheque.
The Cape won this race last year courtesy of Il Saggiatore, who now campaigns in Mauritius, and the Stormers’ home province look likely to keep it at home with Taipan and Tribal Dance looking head and shoulders above the rest.
Dean Kannemeyer will be wanting to make his Dad Peter proud after Free My Heart’s victory on the last day of the season, before he took over the reins of the family business over a decade ago. A lot of water has passed under the bridge since 31 July 1999. So go with history and sentimental tradition and back the Dynasty colt to win this.